Loss. A little girl who adores her Grandad feels the loss when he passes but finds that he lives on in her through their special bond of memories, stories, and love.
Title: If all the World
Author: Joseph Coelho
Illustrator: Allison Colpoy
ISBN: 9781786030603 Language: English
Classification: Fiction (Poetry)
Themes: grief (death), memories, family
What’s it about?
This is more written in poetic verse rather than a story but it still tells a story. It’s about a young girl who spends time over a year with her grandad before one day he is gone and she feels the loss deeply. She talks about clearing out his room and what she and her parents find there and how a present he left her allows her to keep his memory alive.
The text is well written and follows what she does with her grandad through each season of the year until he passes away. The illustrations complement the story well and are very moving on their own.
I would have preferred the text to be slightly larger – sometimes it got a bit lost in the illustrations. The title – is it “If all the World” or “If all the World Were” – I know, a small thing but for someone wanting to find the book it could cause a bit of a headache.
At first I wasn’t really sure if I liked the illustrations or not, in fact having read the book I’m still not sure. It’s not my usual style that I love and yet I was very moved by the way Allison had portrayed each scene from the girl walking with her grandad to images of India to the empty chair (picture further down: that was the one I started to sniff on!). So I think that while not everyone will love the style, I think anyone reading will still be moved and appreciate the illustrations.
It’s not really about the stuff at all but about the time spent together.
The core of this story is about death and how it impacts family and individuals. In this instance it focuses on the granddaughter who clearly has a bond with her grandad and feels the loss of his passing greatly. Little things in the story – like how he buys her a secondhand race track and they fix it together and then play – were not only touching but also breaks a bit of a taboo I see of “secondhand stuff”. It shows that it’s not really about the stuff at all but about the time spent together fixing it and playing with it. Just like the stories he tells her are as much about teaching her about his life as they are bonding.
I really see this book being used more in 1-on-1 situations or in a home environment. This is the type of book that needs to be read and then discussed – perhaps even using some of the ideas (such as the girl writing and drawing in a book) to help another child work through the emotions of losing a loved one. Definitely one for counsellors to consider having handy either to use themself or to lend to a family in need.
Overall, a sad topic but one filled with a lot a love and memory building. Due for release on the 7th June 2018.